May 2, 2007 2:46 PM PDT
Digg in tough spot with DMCA debacle
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"I think as a founder of a large social site, it's very important that you pay attention and react to the people that are driving your community," he said, comparing the situation to that of social-networking site Facebook when it launched an unpopular feature called the "News Feed" last year. Many Facebook members saw it as an invasion of privacy, and in response to the outrage, company founder Mark Zuckerberg wrote an apology note and rolled out more privacy features for the News Feed.
"Mark did a great job of addressing (user) concerns," Rose said. "You have to realize that it's not just your site. It's the community that drives it and makes it succeed, and you have to work with them and pay attention to what they have to say."
Now, the question for Digg is what happens next. Copyright experts say the site could face a legal tussle, but argue that Digg's issues aren't likely as vexing as the legal challenge Google's YouTube faces in a $1 billion lawsuit by media conglomerate Viacom.
"You are publishing something that allows somebody to circumvent the digital rights management. It's a relatively narrow clause, and the liability has to do with publishing the algorithm," said Kraig Baker, chair of technology practice at the Seattle law firm Davis Wright Tremaine. Digg's issue doesn't deal with the same kind of liability that's derived from posting a Colbert Report clip on YouTube, for example.
But at the same time, "it does fit into the larger conversation of where the lines are going to be drawn," Baker said.
Still, Digg is in a tough spot as it tries to please its audience and avoid legal hassles. Digg "made their choice already about what's important to them, and that is the community," Baker said. "They serve a relatively volatile community in that it's one that has very strong viewpoints and very strong opinions about what's right and what's wrong. And when you have a community that has very strong views about how something is going to happen, you are hamstrung a little bit about the kinds of policies you can put in place."
Kharimkhany of Wired Digital said it was inevitable that Digg would at some point have to deal with this sort of issue. "I think it's a demonstration of Digg's user community's affinity for the site and the power of sharing the news," he said. "If it wasn't this event, if it wasn't this particular topic, it would have been another topic where this would have happened."
"We're definitely curious to see what happens next," Kharimkhany added.
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